By the year l904, the
population of Owen was 315 people and a petition was made for incorporation as a
village. The petition was signed by C. M. Hall, F. C Griffin, Florence B. Owen,
Edw. A. Owen, and G. E. Anderson. On November 9, an election was held to decide
the question, the judges being J. T. Hughes, G. F. Bolman, and F. C. Griffin.
The first election was held on April 1, 1905 and the officer elected were: C. M.
Hail, Pres; W. 0. Royer, Supervisor; Trustees: F. C. Griffin, A. G. Johnson, Wm.
Fox, and A. D. Knight. The other officers were: F. L. Earl, Clerk; Edw. Owen,
Treas; O. F. Bolman, Assessor; J. P. Weirich, Justice of the Peace; and Walter
Williams, Constable. The first meeting of the village board was held in the
school house on April 11, 1905.
In 1925 the population of Owen reached slightly more than 1200 and Owen was
incorporated into a city. The first mayor was Archie Mohr. Succeeding mayors
were: V. F. Shereda, Hans Madsen, Ken Mathewson, Dr. M. V. Nason, and the
present mayor, Celarid Melbinger. Hans Madsen served three terms intermittently
for a total of 19 years.
Since the closing of the mill the population of Owen decreased slightly and has
not as yet regained the total of 1200 people.
The business developement of Owen began several years after the building of the
mill. The first store was the “Company Store”, where groceries, drygoods and all
other commodities were sold. Employees bought every-thing at the company store,
and their bills and the rent for their homes were deducted from the weekly pay
checks, and the rest given them in cash “if there was anything left” as one old
resident has said.
By l904 a trading area was established on the present Central Avenue. Some of
the early businesses were: Dempsey’s Livery Stable, Westergaards Bakery,
Fleischman’s Meat Market, Golden Sturgeons, Millers and Elliotts Saloons, Abler,
Charette and Richardson’s general stores, Rawson Griebenow Hardware, and Louis
Krom, clothing store.
Picture Courtesy of the Griebenow Co., and Lew Buigrin, Owen
The Owen Bank was incorporated in 1907, and the present bank building erected in
1909. The Owen family was instrumental in establishing the bank, and J. G. Owen
was the first elected president. The bank was closed during the depression in
1933 and later re-opened as a branch of the Curtiss State Bank.
The Owen Lumber Co., built the Woodland Hotel in 1906. This building was a fine
large brick building and gained a reputation as one of the best hotels in
Northwest Wisconsin. C. H. Patrie managed the Woodland until it was sold to Nick
Lehnen in l940.
The Vandreil Canning Co. started a factory in l9l1 which canned peas and beans.
In 1916 the name was changed to Owen Canning Co. Henry Wallum bought the company
in l910 and continued operations until 1956.
Owen’s weekly newspaper “The Owen Enterprise” was first published in Withee as
the “Withee Sentinel” By Mr. & Mrs. J. A. Barager. In l9l1 the building was
moved to Owen and the “Owen Enterprise had its beginning, being published by
Mrs. Annie Laurie Barager, assisted by her sons. It is atpresent published by
her grandson, James Barager.
Another important addition to Owen is the Clark County Hospital, an institution
for county mental patients. W. G. Roy-er, being on the county board of
supervisors, was instrumental in bringing the hospital to Owen. The Withee Farm,
east of Owen, was purchased by the county and a very fine hospital and farm was
established in 1920. The building and grounds are among the finest of its kind
in the nation and the institution is self supporting. Mr. M. Duncan was the
first superintendent and the present managers are Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Mills.
When Owen was first started mail and supplies were hauled here by horse and
wagon from Withee, since the train did not stop at Owen. The Owen post office
was first established in 1895 in the office of the
J. S. Owen Lumber Co. A. R. Owen was the first postmaster. Thos. Wylie succeeded
Mr. Owen in 1906 and served until 1913. The following men became postmasters: F.
C. Watson until l921 L. W. Cattanach to 1935; R. C. Graham to 1957; and H. C.
Wendt presently serving. The post office was moved to the business district
during the term of Mr. Wylie and the location has been moved several times since